The Sony Digital Rights Management Debacle: The Litigation, the Settlement, and Some Thoughts on the Future of DRM

Abstract

The discovery of major security, privacy, and consumer protection issues in digital rights management software loaded onto millions of Sony BMG compact discs outraged consumers and prompted no less than 20 separate lawsuits against Sony BMG. Although a recent settlement has begun the process of addressing those issues, the debacle has called attention to the legal and practical risks of DRM software—for content providers as well as consumers. McSherry, one of a team of lawyers that sued Sony BMG on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers and helped negotiate the settlement, will discuss the legal framework for DRM, how Sony ran afoul of that framework, the settlement, and the future of DRM. Is it possible to design DRM that does not limit fair use, create security risks, or invade music fans' privacy? Is DRM even necessary?

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